Often in an entrepreneurs life, there comes times when big decisions have to be made in order to focus on what’s important and lately I’ve had to make a few of these myself that has taught me some more lessons in focus.
I think for a while, I thought that it was possible for me to focus on several different projects and make them all succeed, but in reality, I let this get out of hand and ended up focusing on too many things.
Something needed to go. By focusing on too many things, instead of pushing all of them forward, I let the important ones slip and ended up failing at everything. That’s when crunch point came along and I decided to get rid of a whole bunch of ideas, in order to pursue only the handful that would make a difference, to my life and others.
It’s kinda like a magnifying glass really, in order to make fire using the strength of the sun, you have to focus the beam into a narrow point such that it gets hot enough to start a fire. Too wide a beam and it might get warm, perhaps even hot, but a fire will never start.
Same for work, same for projects, same for life really.
I think this is also a great learning lesson for the many small businesses out there too. I’ve seen it happen time and time again when a fellow small business owner starts something they want to do, and then ends up supplying a complete range of other services, even before they have made their core offering succeed.
It’s especially typical of a British entrepreneur and that got me thinking about the reason why that’s the case. You see, I’ve been and worked in the USA enough times to experience how they perceive things there, and they don’t seem to suffer this notion of broaden their services.
It comes down to a single factor, market size. In the UK, people have this “island” perception that the market place is small for niche products. It gets to a point when a new business starts up and get’s a few clients before they consider expanding their service range in order to gain more clients. This is a scarcity mentality. If you could get all the clients in the UK into a single company doing a single thing, that company would still ultimately be super successful.
In the USA, this doesn’t happen because momentum and speed is gained quicker and therefore the new company does not enter into a mind frame where they need to consider broadening or expanding their service/product ranges. This is due to size of the potential market place too. After all the USA is many factors bigger than the UK.
we are all susceptible
I have also been a culprit of this exact behaviour and seem what it does to my company. In fact it practically crippled my small digital agency until got a handle on it all and started to narrow the focus again.
That’s only half the job. Once you’ve narrowed the focus, much like the magnifying glass, you’ll need a certain period of time before the beam get’s hot enough to start a fire. For a small business focusing on just a few products, that could mean years, and the successful entrepreneurs are the ones who realise this and are prepared to stick it out for the long haul.
As much as we’d like to believe that success can happen overnight, and the media often reports super success stories of companies we’ve hardly heard of, the truth of it all is that most ideas need a gestation time.
Even massive billion dollar successes like the Instagrams and AirBNBs may seem like whimsical ideas that went from nothing to over billions in very short periods of time, but the ideas themselves have been in development for years.
Today’s lesson is patience and narrow focus. Try always to remember the magnifying glass and you’ll not stray too far from the success curve you’re working towards.